This might be the most anticipated NBA season since Michael Jordan played his first full season with the Chicago Bulls after playing baseball.
So many storylines.
So many players.
So let’s get it on.
Fab 5 (Favorites to win it all)
1. Miami Heat. LeBron James finally got his ring last season in leading the Heat to an NBA title. With Dwyane Wade being healthier than ever and Chris Bosh finally learning how to play with the two superstars, Miami is poised to win a second straight title in 2012-13.
2. Los Angeles Lakers. How lucky is Mike Brown? He coached James in Cleveland, got fired, was hired by the Lakers and is now coaching Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard?
Brown has to get them to the finals or else.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder. Trading away James Harden to Houston is going to hurt, but the Thunder have two of the NBA’s top five players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If OKC finds that third scorer, it’ll be back in the finals.
4. Boston Celtics. They’re not “too old” anymore. Ray Allen is in Miami. Jason Terry is in Boston. Jeff Green is back. Still got Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Doc Rivers is a great coach, but it’s all on Rajon Rondo. The Celtics will go as far as he takes them.
5. San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs had the NBA’s best record in 2010-11 only to lose to Memphis in the first round. Last season, they had the best record in the Western Conference, but fell to Oklahoma City. Still a great team, but is this their last hurrah?
4 zzzz (Don’t sleep on them)
1. Los Angeles Clippers. Didn’t realize how much of a difference Chris Paul was going to make there. The question is can they seriously compete with the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder.
2. Memphis Grizzlies. This might be the NBA’s deepest team next to Denver. Last year’s first-round playoff exit will fuel the prideful Grizzlies.
3. Indiana Pacers. The Heat should thank the Pacers for getting them in the right frame of mind to win it all. If Indiana can build off that series loss, it might face Miami again in the playoffs.
4. Denver Nuggets. Andre Iguodala is an ideal fit in Denver because he excels in the open court. With Ty Lawson pushing the ball, the Nuggets will score, but can they stop anybody?
3 & out (Their time is up)
1. Atlanta Hawks. Talented, but underachieving, the Hawks are good enough to make the playoffs, but haven’t done any serious damage in it. Don’t see that changing now.
2. Chicago Bulls. They’re starting the season minus Derrick Rose, who’s recovering from a serious knee injury. While their defense will remain stout, the Bulls won’t make the playoffs.
3. Orlando Magic. Good luck in the draft lottery.
2 rookies (Will do their thing)
1. Anthony Davis. The top pick in the 2012 draft out of Kentucky will make an immediate impact on defense for the New Orleans Hornets.
2. Damian Lillard. The Weber State product averaged 16.2 points for the Portland Trail Blazers to lead all rookies in scoring in the preseason.
1 final word
Dear David Stern. Thanks for helping make the NBA what it is today.
– Duane Rankin